A man intending on taking his dog for a walk in the Tall Grass Prairies Monday afternoon while he snapped some photos of flowers and bugs ended up rescuing a hiker from a beaver trap instead.

The Tall Grass Prairie Preserve is located near Gardenton in the RM of Stuartburn (photo credit: Greg Ritchie).“I got to the preserve and there was a guy sitting on the ground behind a car trying to flag me down,” recalls Greg Ritchie. “At first, I thought he was just waving at me.”

Ritchie approached the man and quickly realized the friendly wave was actually a plea for help: the man had a “conibear” beaver trap stuck around his foot. “It turns out he had been trying to pry it open for about 45 minutes!”

Fortunately, Ritchie happened to be familiar with the mechanism as he had “unsuccessfully” dabbled with trapping in the past. “I was able to squeeze the side springs, latch one of them, and then squeeze the other spring so he could get his foot out.”

Having never actually caught an animal before, he says it was “bizarre” to see a human snagged in the device. Once the trap was freed from the man’s foot, Ritchie says he was impressed at how negligible his injuries were; a few red marks and some bruises, but nothing serious.

“The trap is for killing beavers,” he comments. “So I was a bit surprised it didn’t do more damage to his foot. He was lucky.” Medical crew arrived in the parking lot a few minutes later and confirmed that the injuries were minor. “I’m glad I knew how to actually get it off," adds Ritchie, "because when the paramedics showed up they said they would have had no idea how to do it.”

Ritchie left the path, not wanting his dog "Robbie" to suffer a similar fate (photo credit: Greg Ritchie).Worried that his dog might get caught in another beaver trap, Ritchie declared his photo scavenging trip a loss and decided to head elsewhere.

After looking into the matter, Ritchie found that the trap was legally placed a few dozen yards from the beginning of the main trail by Manitoba Infrastructure in their efforts to mitigate a localized beaver problem.

“The [beavers] were clogging culverts and flooding out the highway,” he details.“It was a legal trap, just probably not the best spot for it.”

Still, Ritchie says the whole misadventure gives him no less respect for trappers, who he feels are generally fairly safe in what they do.

“I’m not against trapping, I never said it was bad, I just found a guy with a trap on his foot, that was it,” he says, summarizing the experience.